AFC West: Haley hiring 09

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Well, the NFL has a full complement of head coaches. Thanks for participating, AFC West.
With the Oakland Raiders promoting interim coach Tom Cable as the permanent head coach on Wednesday and the Kansas City Chiefs hiring Todd Haley as head coach Friday, the final two head coaching positions are now filled.

The theme of the AFC West in the past five weeks has been finding a new head coach. Three of the four teams in the division have hired a new coach since the end of the season. The only team not to embark on a coaching search were the division champion San Diego Chargers. Had the Chargers not won the division, they probably would have fired coach Norv Turner and been looking for a coach instead.

But in the end it was Denver's Mike Shanahan, who got the axe unexpectedly. Denver turned to fresh-faced New England office coordinator Josh McDaniels to start new after 14 years of the Shanahan era. With all the hiring complete here is a quick recap of what has happened in the division since the end of the season


Out: Mike Shanahan

In: Josh McDaniels

Why: Denver owner Pat Bowlen thought that Shanahan's message was stale. After the team went 24-24 in the last three years, he thought it was time for a change.

Kansas City

Out: Herm Edwards

In: Todd Haley

Why: The Chiefs have won just six games in the last two years. The team wanted a complete overhaul. General manager Scott Pioli was brought in, and now Haley joins them. The Chiefs are in a rebuilding phase in every sense of the word.


Out: Lane Kiffin

In: Tom Cable

Why: The Raiders owner Al Davis likes Cable's enthusiasm, has ability to work well personally with players. Cable finished the season strong with two wins to end this season in his role as interim coach. The Raiders need stability and Cable was the best choice.


Meet Todd Haley

February, 6, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Name: Todd Haley

New job: Head coach, Kansas City Chiefs

Where he came from: Arizona Cardinals, offensive coordinator.

Age: 41

Claim to fame: He was the engineer of the high powered Cardinals offense that flew all the way to the Super Bowl.

Why he was hired: He has a past with new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli and there is a natural comfort level between the two.

What to expect: Haley loves the passing game. He is innovative and fiery. Expect a high-energy, in-your-face approach.

His biggest challenge: He needs to get Kansas City's defense fixed. The Chiefs' offense is decent but the defense needs an overhaul.

Did you know: He didn't play college football. He was a college golfer.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have replaced general manager Carl Peterson and head coach Herm Edwards with Scott Pioli and Todd Haley, respectively, there is much work to be done.

There are some difficult decisions that need to be made in Kansas City and it all starts with tight end Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez has made it clear that he wants to stay with the team to finish his career.

But he needs to be convinced that the Chiefs can become a contender soon, which may be difficult to do and he may ask to be traded again. The Chiefs don't have to deal him, and they could force him to live by the final two years of his contract if it gets to that point. But Gonzalez is a legend in Kansas City and dealing him will be difficult. The Chiefs need to convince Gonzalez they are going to win soon and he can be a big part of it.

Another decision will be what to do with running back Larry Johnson. That appears to be a much easier decision. The team is expected to try to trade Johnson in the coming weeks. But because of his age and his off-field baggage, the Chiefs likely won't get much for him, so it could come down to him being released. Either way, it doesn't look like Johnson will be in Kansas City next season.

Kansas City also has to decide what to do at quarterback. The Chiefs, who have the third overall pick in the draft, could go with a quarterback such as Georgia's Matt Stafford or Southern California's Mark Sanchez or the team could strike a deal for New England's Matt Cassel. That is a real possibility considering Pioli's ties to the Patriots. But then there's Tyler Thigpen, who did a decent job and who has a supporter in Gonzalez. Gonzalez thinks the Chiefs should fully concentrate on defense and give Thigpen another year to develop.

Kansas City has a load of salary-cap room and it will be able to do a lot in the offseason. Defense needs to be the clear area of concentration. But the idea of getting a quarterback to start the Pioli and Haley era could be too enticing for them to pass up.

Indeed, the Chiefs are going to have to spend the next few weeks and months deciding on several key areas as they try to begin this new era the right way.

Todd Haley speaks about taking over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Pioli and Haley in it together

February, 6, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Scott Pioli's first hire as an NFL general manager could make or break his career in Kansas City.

The hiring of Pioli was considered a coup for Kansas City when he came on board last month.

He was a highly respected executive at New England and was considered a big reason why the Patriots have been a dynasty in this decade.

Now his job is to turn the Chiefs from a bottom feeder into a relevant team. His first step was to hire Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley as his head coach. Haley replaces Herm Edwards, whom Pioli fired two weeks ago. It was clear that Haley was Pioli's top choice through the entire process. There were other interviews, but Haley was the target. The two have a natural connection.

Haley's mentor is Bill Parcells, who is Pioli's father-in-law. Thus, the two come from the same football school.

Haley is a legitimate choice because he was part of the Arizona Cardinals' unlikely Super Bowl run. Haley's explosive offense was a big reason why Arizona nearly won it all. Pioli is certainly getting a hot name to take over his program.

Interestingly, Haley wasn't considered a hot name in December. There were whispers that Oakland was going to look at Haley. But at this point, Oakland is a B-list job. With Pioli on board, Kansas City can be an A-list job. With his Super Bowl shine, Haley is an A-list name.

Now Pioli and Haley have to make the grade together.

It won't be an easy turnaround in Kansas City. The team won just six games the past two years combined and has major problems on defense. There are some interesting pieces on offense that Haley can work with. But defensively, the Chiefs are a long way away from being competitive.

The early buzz is that Miami assistant Todd Bowles could be a candidate for defensive coordinator. Bowles is a well-respected coach and has interviewed for some head-coaching jobs. He could help rebuild the defense in Kansas City, but ultimately it all comes down to Pioli and Haley.

Pioli's job to give Haley the pieces to make it work on the field. All eyes are on Pioli as the league wants to see if he can succeed on his own without the comfort of having Bill Belichick in the same building. In Haley, Pioli has selected a young, bright coach who was known almost as much for his explosive personality as his explosive offense attack.

Will it work? It had better or the Pioli experience in Kansas City could be a disappointing one.